Here are some personal favorites in Shanghai, in no particular order (updated Aug 2012):
Each nigiri sushi at Sushi Oyama is a luxurious sensation in the mouth, almost unbearably delicious. Oyama-san hits the ideal fish to rice ratio and adds a little spark with the perfect seasoning – a glaze of soy sauce, s few slices of shiso leaves, a bit of ginger, a few flakes of dried bonito, or a sprinkle of sesame and scallions…I’m charmed beyond remedy. Click here for detailed review.
Old Jesse needs no introduction. This cramped little place is widely recognized as the best Shanghainese restaurant in Shanghai, and is my usual go to place when out-of-town guests ask for some local flavors. Dates stuffed with glutinous rice (心太軟) braised pork in brown sauce (外婆紅燒肉), crab meat with bean curd (蟹粉粉皮), roasted fish head with scallion (蔥香魚頭), Subei Chicken Soup (蘇北土雞湯)…Click here for detailed review.
This intimate, perpetually packed Japanese yakitori shochu bar has all the right elements – skewered items grilled to perfection over Japanese charcoal, artery-clogging but supremely gratifying fried chicken, fried potatoes, fried anything, and Beatles posters all over its walls and classic tunes of “Love Me Do” and “Yellow Submarine” in the background. My favorite yakitori place in town, hands down. Click here for detailed review.
Despite all the negative reviews Franck has received, I had a very charming dinner here just a few evenings ago. The prices are still up there, but the service has improved dramatically since the restaurant’s earlier days, while its ambience remained as bewitching as always with its Jazzy lounge music, exposed light bulbs, and dark wood furnishings. And the food? Fantastique. Click here for detailed review.
This tiny, perpetually packed Taiwanese beef noodle joint serves – you’ve guessed it – delicious beef noodles. The broth is rich, slightly spicy, and aromatic with a subtle but evident star anise flavor; the beef, with lots of tendon, is slow braised for hours until it falls apart in your mouth; and the noodles is chewy and cooked al dente. Click here for detailed review.
Table No. 1 is chic in the unusual way of broken tiles, exposed bricks, and rough edges, charming especially during the evening with elusive candle lights adorning the tables. This contemporary European restaurant is ran by Jason Atherton, one of Gordon Ramsay’s protégés, and offers some very interesting dishes with intriguing texture and flavor combination. Click here, here, and here for detailed reviews.
Café Dan is small cafe in Tianzifang filled with an abundance of sunlight and the alluring aroma of freshly brewed coffee. This cozy little place serves luxurious iced latte, desserts, and down-to-earth Japanese comfort foods that warm you up from the inside. Simply the best in Tianzifang, and might just be the best in Shanghai. Click here and here for detailed reviews.
a Côté, literally “next door”, is a small pizzeria by Franck Pecol from the neighboring Franck Bistro and Le Petit Franck. The short menu, scrawled in French on a piece of wooden plaque, consists of 10 Marseille-style pizzas and nothing else (though a green salad is available upon request). There’s no novelty here. It’s simple, and it’s good. Click here for detailed review.
This Japanese-run Italian restaurant (Gubei branch) serves one of my favorite lunch sets in Shanghai, and is my natural go-to place when I don’t have a particular restaurant in mind. My favorites: spaghetti with crab in tomato cream sauce and quattro fromage pizza – order them and you will not be disappointed.
Click here for detailed review.
Gelato! Need I say more? Le Creme Milano is a delightful gelateria serving classic favorites like stracciatella and tiramisu as well as seasonal flavors of mango, lychee, and durian. My favorite at the moment is pistachio, but let’s see how long this one lasts. There are 12 different flavors that rotate weekly, and all are fresh, light, and (relatively) guilt-free. Click here and here for detailed reviews.
Song Fang Maison de Thé is an enchanting tea salon located in a converted French Concession lane house. Winding wooden staircase, vintage tin cans, wicker chairs, floral red prints. Bright, airy, with light jazz floating in the background. A truly stylish retreat. Try the Polynesie, a fruity blend of green tea with mango, banana, and pineapple. Click here for detailed review.
To be continued…